Lying Is a Matter of Degrees:
Let's return to our favorite gay male couple, Ron and Dave. (Long-time readers will remember them from a previous entry; new readers can enjoy their travails by heading to the archives and reading the December 4, 2003 entry.) Ron and Dave are back together. They even went to San Francisco and got married, although they live in legal limbo. Everyone's happy to see Ron and Dave as a couple again: there was too much turmoil on the streets of Chelsea as to who was gonna be whose friend. Too much of a chance of dating Dave and awkwardly running into Ron and his date at a club. Yep, Ron and Dave think they've worked it all out and are in it for the long haul. But Ron, oh, Ron, he's got such a problem. You see, Ron still can't get enough cock. Dave's gotten better in the sack, but Ron wants more. He wants to fuck and get fucked all the time. He's voracious. He could have a cock in each hand, one in his mouth and one in his ass and he'd still want more. So he's pretending to go on out of town business trips when, truth be told, he's heading to Cherry Grove or Fire Island for liaisons with dozens of different guys. And he comes back home and lies to Dave. He lies so clearly to those who see from the outside, but he lies so well that Dave is mostly fooled, although he's got suspicions. One night, when Ron is on a "business trip" (actually, a cabin in Saugatuck, Michigan, with an accountant from J.P. Morgan), Dave is out at a bar, having a beer. He sees a guy eyeballing him and it gives him a thrill. He hasn't been checked out in a while. He starts to chat the guy up and, finally, guilt-free, he gives the guy a kiss, but says he's seeing someone. Ron comes back. He gets a call from a friend who says he saw Dave kissing another guy at a bar. Ron confronts Dave with this adulterous behavior (they are, after all, married). Dave says he didn't do it, but, pressed by Ron, who is now on a vicious drunk from all the Pinot Grigio he's been drinking, Dave denies it. "Ah-ha!" Ron yells. "You are a liar! I have evidence!" Now Dave is pissed. He turns it around. "Where have you been going, Ron? Why have I seen receipts from the Ice Palace? And why do you have so many trips to Provincetown?" Ron is caught. He's been lying. But instead of admitting it, he tries for the moral high ground. He accuses Dave again of lying, asking him how many more things he's lied about.

The moral question of the day is this: who has told the worse lie? Who has done the most damage? Who has made their life irreparably bad?

As Bush and Kerry fling accusations of lying back and forth at each other (an image created on the front of the New York Daily News is shorthand for the stupid), it helps to put this in a bit of context: what are the total effects of the lies told by any candidate in his/her career? (And we can broaden the definition of "lies" to "says one thing and does another.") Let's say that everything Bush and Kerry are saying about each other is true. This is just for fun. Let's say it's all true. That Kerry's vote against the funding bill wasn't a vote against a bill that would be paid for by future generations in comparison to a bill that fully funded the Iraq war through a rollback of taxcuts, but it was a vote against supporting the war effort. That Kerry lied when he said that foreign leaders supported him. That Kerry does flip-flop on issues. Let's just assume that's all true.

How does that balance with the lies of the Bush administration? If you say that Bush lied about WMDs, lied about tax cuts, lied about job growth, lied about the ease of the transition in Iraq, lied about wanting to get to the bottom of 9/11, lied about wanting to find out who outed Valerie Plame, lied about the cost of the Medicare bill, and on and on, how do the lies balance? How does the scale tip?

Isn't it obvious that Ron's lies are far, far more damaging than anything that Dave even has to lie about? Ron's behavior and his lying about it could get someone killed. Dave's lies just hurt feelings. Poor Dave. Ron is already out there, trying to make himself morally superior, magnifying Dave's minor league failures, when his own lies are a tangled web of hatred and dishonor and insecurity.